Tuesday, May 10, 2011

When Wargames and Movies and TV Collide

The Duke of Windsor has been popping up and requiring my attention lately from a number of different sources.  He's appeared as characters in an Oscar-winning movie (The Kings' Speech) and two productions on Monsterpeice Theatre (Any Human Heart and Upstairs Downstairs).  Plus the battleship named after him (HMS Prince of Wales) appears in the Naval Histories I've been reading recently.

So the conundrum I have is : why were HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Duke of York named the PoW and DoY?  Check the timing here - the PoW was laid down 27/1/37 and launched in 1939, the DoY laid down on 5/5/37 and launched in 1939.  But the men these ships were named for had changed title even before they were laid down.  The former Prince of Wales became King Edward VII on 20/1/36 and abdicated on 11/12/36 becoming Duke of Windsor the next day.  At the same time the former Duke of York became King George VI on 11/12/36.  There wouldn't be another PoW until 1958 nor another DoY until 1986!

OK, you say maybe it's because it's bad luck to rename a ship.  Possibly, but their two sister ships were laid down as HMS Jellicoe and HMS Beatty in 1937, and then launched as HMS Howe and HMS Anson.  The post-Jutland controversies ran so fervently through the RN that 24 years later the names of the admirals involved were considered too controversial.

So how was it that the admirals who led the RN through a victorious WWI campaign more controversial than a disgraced ex-King who flirted with Hitler?


  1. There you go, looking for logic again.
    Remember at all times -- you are dealing with Homo Sapiens here -- a barely-domesticated primate. Logic doesn't enter into it.


  2. Ahh, but how can we tell for sure WHICH Prince of Wales or Duke of York the ships were named of? You note that the ships named for admirals were renamed after 18thC admirals, perhaps the PofW was really named after their contemporaries Prince Edward and George Augustus William?

    or on the other hand, maybe the reigning Monarch was sentimental and no one wanted to upset him.

  3. Ross Mac beats me too it.... no saying it's the specific POW and DOY you're thinking of... :o)